Monday, April 20, 2020

Vintage Camper Remodel Update!

Hey guys! 

Had a minute before we got started working on our 1968 Play-Mor Model 140 vintage camper today so I thought I'd check in and give you some updates. 

If you saw our first video that I linked here last week, you know that we have already demolished the entire camper. Here's a peek at that process: 

Here's what the camper looked like on day 1: 

Then once the interior was removed, we took the walls and roof off (see that video here): 

And we were left with just the old rusty frame and rotten decking: 

After that, Conan pulled the old decking off (making meticulous notes of where everything would go back) and sanded, primed and painted the frame (here it is primed): 

That video is up on our YouTube (Trailer Trash to Treasure) if you want to check it out: 

Up next was rebuilding the old walls using the original studs as a frame to work off of: 

And that bring us to our most recent video:

Up next, the decking on the trailer frame gets rebuilt so that the walls can go back up and after that it's roof, wiring, insulation, skin. 

Easy peezy lol

So far it hasn't been too bad. The weather has held out for us most of the time (except for terrible allergies that we've all got - Simon included) and we're excited to start thinking of how the exterior is going to look and what the interior will be laid out like. 

We weren't really planning on making any changes to the interior layout - if it ain't broke - but we might have a couple of things that would make it a little more functional, we'll see. 

If you're seeing this and you haven't already - please go LIKE & SUBSCRIBE to our channel, Trailer Trash to Treasure. 

Until next time, 
Keep Smiling! 

Friday, April 10, 2020

We're On Youtube!

A couple of posts ago I mentioned that we had purchased yet another vintage camper to fix up. Here she is, a 1968 Play-Mor Model 140: 
So ugly it's cute, right?
We honestly didn't think we'd have time to touch it with a busy season of events this spring and summer but guess what? We have some free time on our hands now (like it or not) and we figured what better way to get our minds off of things than to dig into a real project.
And because I like to double down on my challenges, I decided to film the process and put it on YouTube so you can follow along! 
Anywho, episode 1 is live on our Youtube Channel Trailer Trash to Treasure
It's going to be a unique project due to our current situation (i.e. we're unemployed for the forseeable future due to the ban on large public gatherings and booths ; ).
We're trying to get it frame off and put back together in 8 weeks on a shoestring budget and perhaps the biggest challenge - we can't just hop in the car and run to the lumber company every two hours. Should be interesting. 
Be sure to LIKE & SUBSCRIBE (wow, I feel so youtube-y saying that) so you can watch each episode. The plan is to put them out every Sunday night until we run out of stuff to show you which could be weeks or it could be years. Let's find out together! 
Keep Smiling!

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The History of our House: 1917-1940 (The original owners!)

If you saw our last post, you know that something very exciting happened recently: 

We finally got down to the very first people that owned our house. If you've poked around the blog, you know that this has been an off and on project of ours for years. We did a little research here and there and were able to piece together a couple of things but never knew who the original owners were.

Until one month ago when I got an email from Meredith. It read:

...I've been researching your house and I stumbled upon your fixer upper blog yesterday. 
The reason I have been researching your house is because I've been researching the original owners - my ancestors. They purchased the house brand new in 1917 and lived there until 1940, when, as you know, the Muck family bought it. 

I have some newspaper clippings and some census and city directory records I'm sending you so you have this information. You have done amazing work fixing up this home and I'm sure the original owners would be proud. 

Bernard P. Cunningham
Mary Elizabeth (Sheahon) Cunningham (my 3rd great aunt)
Had 12 children
2 died in infancy
1 died of Spanish Flu at Fort Riley in 1918 (James)

WOW. Right?

Before we get into all of that, here's a quick refresher on what we already knew about the house's previous owners:


Us! (the home's sixth and current owners)

We purchased the house in April 2009. It had been vacant at that point for at least a couple of years. It had no heat, and several other issues.

Here's a little more about buying the house, an interior tour, and a nice roundup of projects through the years.


(the home's fifth owners?)

A few years ago while painting the front porch with my mom, a woman came up with her son and said that she had lived in the house before us. I can't recall how long exactly she said but she gave some details of the house that confirmed she had lived in it.


Larry (the home's third/fourth owners)

By complete accident and good fortune, we stumbled upon the next people to live in our house.

Conan worked for years and years at Moler's Camera digitizing slides and old photos.

One day in 2016 he was digitizing some pictures and saw something that looked familiar - our porch!
Larry in front of our (his) porch on a pony. 

He looked through more of the pictures and sure enough - it was our house!

Larry and other neighborhood children on our porch. 

He spoke to the man who was a little boy in the photos, Larry, who remembered his dad working on the house and making some additions here and there. The above photos were taken around 1946 and Larry said his family lived there until the 70s then he purchased the home from them and lived here until the 1990s.

See all of these incredible photos here.


The Muck Family (the home's second owners)

The Muck Family, l to r: Dan, Charles, Maude, Eva
Before Larry and his family, there were the Mucks.

The Muck family purchased the house in 1940 and lived there with their daughter Maude and son Charles.

Dan & Eva Muck on their wedding day, December 25, 1890

I was fortunate enough to get to speak with their granddaughter, Wilene who had done a lot of research on her own.

Dan Muck and his granddaughter Wilene

She recalled that her grandparents slept in the dining room of the house and she sometimes stayed up in the attic.

According to the census, they had 5 female boarders while living here.


The Cunningham Family (the home's original owners)

Here's where things get really interesting as we put the final puzzle piece of our home into place.

So, Meredith was researching her ancestors and came across our blog and decided to reach out with all of the amazing information she had found. With her permission, I'll share it with you here, paraphrasing her:

The home's original owners were Mary and Bernard Cunningham. They were married on April 21, 1884.

They were from Pottawatomie County, Kansas originally. They moved to Butler County around 1913, bought 160 farm acres near Augusta, Kansas (about 40 miles from here).

They discovered oil and gas on their land and became extremely wealthy as a result. Here's an interesting clipping renting that farm out years after they had moved to Wichita:

The home was built by L.H. Bump for a whopping $5,500 dollars. Here's an article about the building permit (he also built one other home in our neighborhood):

They moved to Wichita in 1917 and purchased our house brand new to live in with their children.

Then things took a turn

Sometime in 1919, Mary filed for divorce from Bernard on the grounds of extreme cruelty (see center column of clipping below:

Their son, Maurice testified that his father had choked his mother and then threatened to kill him with a butcher's knife.

Things got so bad that at one point, after the birth of another of their children, Mary fled the home and walked several miles to a neighbor's house for safety and sent the neighbor back to retrieve the baby.

And if that's not enough, Bernard had also held a loaded pistol to his daughter Grace's head at some point as well.


Bernard's defense stated that he had moved into the garage to "obtain peace" but that when he returned to the house for meals someone was usually in his place at the table.

He claimed that it was Mary who had threatened to kill him due to the fact that he wanted to leave Wichita and return home to Augusta.

The divorce was finalized, with Mary receiving the house (now our house), half of their assets, royalties from the oil on their old farm, and custody of the children.

Bernard moved just down the street to 245 N. Chautauqua where he lived until his death on April 5, 1922, just two years after their divorce was finalized. The executor of his estate, his brother, reported that his children entered the home within a few hours of his death and stole personal property valued at $1891.

Among the things they stole:

A Dodge sedan
Diamond pin
Two bedspreads
and a razor

All of Bernard's children testified against him in the divorce case. He had about $40,000 of property when he died and he gave $4,000 each to his brother and sister and the rest was placed in a trust for his children.

Mary lived in the house until 1940 and then it was sold to the Muck family. Mary lived with her daughter Grace until her death in 1949.

So...yeah. That's A LOT.

When you think of researching your home or in our case, someone else researching their ancestry and finding you (!) - you never really think it will be anything as interesting as this.

Time after time, we've been handed these gems of history by people who have gone out and done the legwork and research.

In Wilene's case, she researched her family and put it out onto the internet for us to find through and in Meredith's case, she did an EXHAUSTIVE amount of research into her family's history and in doing so, found us!

We are so so so so grateful to them both for helping us piece together the history of our house which is now complete and we're doing our part by putting it here for someone to find someday hopefully!

Hopefully, someday Meredith will be able to connect with us in person and see the house. When she does, we have some trash we'd like to give her that belonged to her ancestors ; )

If you'll recall, when we were remodeling the upstairs bathroom we found some very old trash in the garbage chute under the stairs. Read all about it here

the tobacco tin up there is stamped with the date 1919 so it likely belonged to some member of her family. That was our first clue that our house was likely built before the year on the deed - 1920.

Just a neat little tidbit!

Thanks for reading and keep smiling!

Friday, March 27, 2020


So um...It's been A WHILE.

So long in fact, that we were able to create an entirely new person, keep it alive over a year and live to tell about it ; ) 

Introducing, to the Keep Smiling family, Simon Yale Fugit:

Born January 1, 2019
10:39 AM
3 lbs. 15 oz, 16 in.

As you can maybe tell from the weight up there, lil' Simon wasn't supposed to show up on New Year's Day. His due date was actually February 12th but our doctors decided he needed to be a New Years baby so here we are.

He spent 21 days in the NICU but at last check up, he was over 20 lbs. and doing awesome. He's now walking, talking, and getting into everything (including dirt - see mouth in below pic ; ).

That sort of set the tone for the whole year - a whirlwind. Read on to see what else we did that was...surprising...or not depending on how well you know us ; ) 

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Little Lampy Camper Before and After

If you're here looking for posts about working on an old house, I hate to disappoint you but once again we're talking about old campers. If you want to look at old houses, just scroll down a little bit and you've got about 7 years worth of stuff to fill your time with BUT if you want to see some photos of a really cute camper, you're in luck! 

After five months (almost to the day) of non-stop, all consuming work on our most recent camper purchase we finally finished it and rolled it out to its first event as a photo booth here in Wichita on December 16, 2017. 

If you'll recall, this was the BEFORE: 


and here's the AFTER: 

It was a real process this time, folks. If you've been around these parts for the past 5 years you might remember us fixing up our first camper, "Lampy" to put a studio and darkroom inside. We eventually converted it to digital but then we had all of this extra space that we didn't need so we decided to scale down when we found this new camper for a steal at $600.

In spite of being about 6 feet shorter, this new camper was AT LEAST as challenging mostly due to the fact that there was nary a straight line on it. The first camper was much more boxy so framing wasn't as difficult. This one's "canned ham" shape meant replacing rotten wood that was bent and built in a factory 70 years ago was...difficult to say the least ; ) I would estimate that about 70% of those 5 months was spent re-framing the camper. 

All told, we ended up spending about $3,600 on renovating the camper inside and out. 

We scraped all of the old paint off using aircraft stripper (nasty stuff)...

My parents removed pretty much every piece of the skin of the camper to get to the old rotten framing and replace it. 

We started with this: 

Then came this: 

Then we lost the floor somehow: 

But eventually got things back in order and framed up: 

 And now...the back (or bedroom area) finished:

Lamphouse Photo Booth Co.

And the "dining" area before:

And after:

Lamphouse Photo Booth Co

So, there it is - the Little "Lampy" Camper. We even had a friend of ours that is a sign painter do hand lettering on the back. It's darn cute: 

If you're in the mood, there's even more photos on the Lamphouse website here.

We learned a lot from our first attempt at this five years ago that helped us make this one even better and *hopefully* longer lasting. We're really excited to get it out in the spring and fall to some weddings around Kansas and let people enjoy it like they did the original camper. 

Who knows if we'll get back around to house projects now that this is complete. Lord knows we need to get back to painting the house like, YESTERDAY so maybe that will get some more attention when it warms up outside or who knows, maybe we'll just throw a couple of sleeping bags in the camper and take a much needed vacation...

Until next time, Keep Smiling! 

Monday, July 24, 2017

ANOTHER Vintage Camper!

We did a thing! 

If you've been following along for a while or if it somehow slipped your mind, in 2012 we purchased a vintage camper for $500 and turned it into a traveling photo studio and darkroom. Flash forward a few years and it's still rollin' but with digital guts. Read all about that here

But if you want more beat up, before pictures and the story of how we found this cutie, keep reading!

We have been wanting to downsize for a while now. Since we stopped developing photos in the camper, having an extra 5 feet or so for a darkroom was unnecessary. Also, since we started Lamphouse, there have been a number of venues open in up in Wichita that could easily accommodate a camper smaller than Lampy. Throw that together with the fact that we've gotten a warm response for the "Lampy" camper as a digital photo booth and we were ready to start looking in earnest for a smaller camper to fix up.

Problem is, in the past 5 years things like "glamping" and "putting a photo booth in a vintage camper" have become ~things~ thereby driving the price up on old campers and even making hard to find ones that aren't fixed up already.

View from the hitch. This window is definitely not original. Hoping to replace it with one that is or similar. 

So a few weeks ago I decided to start really looking. That means checking craigslist about two dozen times a day, along with any other classified you can find and even, if you have NO shame, asking your neighbor who has one in their backyard if they'd ever consider getting rid of it...

We stopped in Russell and got duct tape for this window. It lasted about...1/2 a mile I'd guess. 

I found a really cute one on a classifieds site in a town called Russell, about 160 miles away but it said that it had been sold. Womp womp. I thought my chances would be better on a smaller site than Craigslist so I checked again that night and WHAT WHAT there it was - for sale again!

The seller told us that the man he bought it from was using it to go fishing at the lake. 

It was already 11 o'clock at night so I couldn't call the business number that was listed. I set my alarm for the next morning and immediately dialed the number - the camper was still there and still $600. One problem? The tires were mush.

A Loveland, Colorado sticker

We went ahead and drove straight up in the Jeep and had a look at it. Conan mentioned there was a camper parts store in town that we could maybe get tires at and the man selling it said that would be a bust so he called the local tire shop and lo and behold, he had 2 perfect, used tires! The seller even jacked up the camper and took the wheels off for us! Kansas nice, y'all!

From the other end - cute marker lights! 

So we got two tires, put them on and headed home on side roads and two lane highways. A trip that took 2 hours going took 4.5 coming back. Now that's what you call "white knuckle driving"!

Here she is parked in Stafford, Kansas on the way home:

The inside is pretty standard fare for an old camper. An area for a table 

A cute little kitchenette

(with an icebox!)

A sleeping area

And some souvenirs! 

I'm keeping that mug.

Conan dug around on the internet and found what he was pretty sure was the make of the camper - an ALJOA (or ALJO if it was after '57). He went out and had a look and sure enough, you can barely make out ALJO on the top and back panels of the camper.

He even found this neat old photo of the exact same camper as ours:

We're SO excited to get to work on her! If you had asked me about 4 years ago if I wanted to restore another camper I...well, I probably would have said yes because I'm crazy and a compulsive business starter but whatever. 

I haven't quite decided if I want to post about renovating the camper over here and on our business blog or just over there yet but I at least wanted to introduce you guys since you "get" us ; ) 

I'm hoping to get in there and start demo this week or next if the weather stays nice-ish.

Next up?

More camper stuff maybe and a look at an AMAZING piece of furniture we got for the kitchen a while back!

If you're interested, our local paper, The Wichita Eagle did a little write up about the original Lampy camper and the new one here

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Porch Painting Before + After

So, after living here for 9 years and working on the exterior of the house little by little for the past 3, we FINALLY got some paint ON THE HOUSE!!

So, the last time I wrote about painting was when we were finishing up the soffitt around the porch.

To jog your memory

Here's what the house looked like before the soffitt and trim were painted way back in 2012:

And here's the "after" from last fall:

And finally, the finished-ish product!

It didn't look half bad and I was feeling pretty confident in our color choices for the whole house.

When the weather was consistently nice we decided to go ahead and get started on painting the actual porch. Before we get started, I realize that this is probably not how you go about painting a house. There are rules! You work tirelessly scraping and filling and sanding and priming every square inch of the house before you start painting. HOWEVER, I have seen those poor souls. I have walked my dog by their scaffolding week after week, month after month, giving them a little wave of acknowledgement until the weather gets too hot or too cold and they retreat for months at a time.

So instead, I decided to clean, prime, scrape and paint just the part of the house that was in reasonably good shape - the porch - to fortify myself for the crap journey that lies ahead.

And you know what? It totally worked! Am I looking forward to putting scaffolding on our roof in the fall? NO, friend. But I've seen the progress and it's wonderful and I want to finish the job. So, without further ado:


To start with, we took everything off of the porch. Every plant hook, stray nail, wreath screw, unused porch swing 2x4. Everything. Including the porch furniture

Here's my dear mother and father working way harder than anyone 45 years old ever should : P

Looks better already!

Then up went the scaffolding so we could power wash the ceiling of the porch. P.S. My mom is the only person on the earth who can look this pretty while hoisting scaffolding above their head. I said it.

Then my dad got to work playing in the water er I mean, POWER WASHING THE PORCH lol while we scraped paint off of the balisters and trim. I didn't get a lot of pictures of this because
1) scraping
2) water and cameras don't mix

But here's the before of the porch floor:

And after:

Dang. Thank you power washer!

I should mention that over the course of this paint odyssey, we've looked for/tried every paint scraping tool known to man. This guy is still my absolute favorite but my mom tried this heat gun from Harbor Freight and honestly? It worked pretty well. I was shocked. It cut through latex paint like a hot knife through butter and even took off a lot of the enamel paint, too!


Another thing my mom discovered - this lovely lady hiding right up underneath the porch rail with her bbs : /

I shouldn't be surprised since Conan and I have found two of these before around the outside of the house but I just always assumed they weren't a thing in Kansas. Brown recluses? Sure. Everywhere. But black widows? I thought we left them in the smoky mountains of northeast Tennessee when we moved here 22 years ago but I guess they followed us. Sorry, everybody!


By the time I got a picture, we had already put a coat of paint on the windows so that's why they're cream colored but you get the idea. Nice and sparkly white!


You can see at this point that we had already painted the siding and trim. So much for taking a bunch of photos : /

BUT, Conan did highly endorse this trim brush:

When you're painting what has to be MILES of trim everyday, it really is worth the $6 to get an actual trim brush with one of these stumpy, soft handles. Your wrist will thank you for it!

Here are some of those miles of trim:

Funny story: We actually painted the balusters and railing a different color than what you see in this photo (there was no red trim and the white parts were the color of the siding) then, we stepped back to look at it and immediately knew it didn't look right. We hopped in the car and drove around looking for porches with rails like ours to see where we went wrong and the answer was - not enough contrast. Conan re-primed and re-painted the rails in a day so that I could get my bunting up by Memorial Day : )

When it came time to paint the treads on the stairs we were equally stumped. I noticed that a lot of the photos I liked on Pinterest of similar houses had the risers painted the color of the balusters and the treads, the color of the trim so that's what we decided to do!

We used Valspar Porch, Floor & Patio paint because it had a little grit to it and you could have it custom tinted.

Here's Conan plugging away with his handy dandy trim brush.

Another of Conan working on the steps because I a) love my little bunting that took years to find and b) Wichita flag!

We also gave the fence a couple coats of primer and the same cream color paint as our risers and balusters. Here's the before:

And the after:

And that brings us to today (well, a few days ago, actually)!

We still need to prime and paint the steps on the south side of the house and re-install our railing that's just sitting there oh, and PAINT THE REST OF THE HOUSE but I'm really pleased with how it's turned out. What's even better? The neighbors seem to like it : )

Thanks to Mrs. DIY for reminding me to include the actual paint colors and brands on this post about PAINTING THE HOUSE ; )

Siding/Columns: Olympic One, Satin Latex in Tortuga

Dark green trim: Valspar Signature, Latex Satin in Olive Smudge

Red trim: Pittsburgh Paramount, Latex Satin in Dutch Boy's Red Farmhouse

Up next?

We did something crazy AGAIN ; ) Can't wait to share this little nugget!

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